House Passes Competitiveness Package
House Advances Major U.S. Competitiveness, Science/Math Education Package
(Washington, DC) Today, the U.S. House of Representatives followed through on a commitment to insure U.S. students, teachers, businesses and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research and technology -- well into the future.
"I can't repeat it often enough - providing high quality jobs for hard working Americans must be our first priority. And in order to accomplish that, we must be proactive," said House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "This package of legislation is proactive and far-reaching. It puts in place measures designed to advance U.S. innovation, which in turns advances our economy."
H.R. 2272, the 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007, passed the House today by voice vote. The bill represents an integral piece of the House Democrats' "Innovation Agenda." The legislative package is comprised of bills authored and steered by the House Committee on Science and Technology -- H.R. 362, H.R. 363, H.R. 1068, H.R. 1867 and H.R. 1868. Each of these bills previously passed the House by wide bipartisan margins.
House passage of H.R. 2272 today sets in motion a conference with similar bipartisan innovation and competitiveness legislation which recently passed the U.S. Senate -- S. 761, the America COMPETES Act.
The House legislative package authorizes a total of $23.6 billion over fiscal years 2008 -- 2010, including $21 billion for research and education programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), $2.5 billion for the research labs, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and other activities at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), and $96 million for early career awards and teacher professional development programs at the Department of Energy (DOE). An additional $70 million is authorized for these programs at DOE for fiscal years 2011-2012.
"Keeping America competitive begins with a high-quality education system and follows with investments in ideas and people here at home. With H.R. 2272, the Science and Technology Committee has done just that," added Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation Chairman David Wu (D-OR).
H.R. 2272 is the culmination of a year and a half-long, bipartisan effort by Members of the Science and Technology Committee to pass a package of competitiveness bills in response to recommendations in the 2005 National Academies report, Rising above the Gathering Storm.
In 2005, a group of bipartisan Congressional lawmakers, including Chairman Gordon, asked the experts at The National Academies for a list of the top 10 actions that policy-makers must take to ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy. Their Rising Above the Gathering Storm report found that the U.S. would stand to lose its competitive edge without immediate action.
Provisions in H.R. 2272 include many of the National Academies recommendations:
Ã‚Â· Keeps the National Science Foundation and the NIST research Labs on a 10-year doubling path;
Ã‚Â· Helps to create thousands of new teachers and provide current teachers with content and pedagogical expertise in their area of teaching;
Ã‚Â· Expands programs to enhance the undergraduate education of the future science and engineering workforce;
Ã‚Â· Expands early career grant programs for outstanding young investigators at both the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy;
Ã‚Â· Strengthens interagency planning and coordination for research infrastructure and information technology.
"In this increasingly competitive world, where manufacturing jobs are rapidly being outsourced and we are importing more high-tech products than we are exporting, now is the time for us to act. We must strengthen our support for the creativity, innovation and talented workforce that makes the U.S. unique and gives us our edge," emphasized Chairman Gordon during House consideration of the bill today. "The day our universities are no longer the most sought after in the world, the day we see a brain drain because our best and brightest young scientists and entrepreneurs can't get the funding to do their research and development here at home, the day our innovation is outsourced -- that is the day that worries me."
"American's ability to compete in a 21st Century economy rests on our continued investments in math and science education as well as providing current scientists and researchers with new opportunities and technologies. With passage of this bill, we're ensuring that we increase job opportunities here at home; promote new technologies; and take the necessary steps to keep our country a world leader in math, science, and technology," stated Rep. Brian Baird, Chairman of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee.
H.R 2272 has the support of many businesses, professional associations and higher education groups.